|The production team on Take That’s Progress Live tour 2011 has been under enormous pressure to deliver a fantastic show to well over a million of the band’s ardent fans. The responsibility for ensuring that latest hits like The Flood and Kidz - as well as a host of older favourites - sound their best has been entrusted to no less than four DiGiCo SD7 mixing consoles.
Taking in 36 stadium dates across the UK, Ireland and Europe, the tour’s sound requirements have been supplied by Capital Sound, with help from Delta Sound. A DiGiCo SD7 is used to mix the Front of House position, with a second for mixing the support act - the Pet Shop Boys – and anything else that may arise. Two more SD7s are on monitors - one for the five members of Take That, the other for the backing musicians - while a fifth DiGiCo console, an SD9, is mixing monitors for the Pet Shop Boys. All consoles share three DiGiRacks via a fibre optic multicore.
This tour is the first time that Take That’s FOH engineer Gary Bradshaw has used the SD7 and he has pronounced himself very pleased with it. “Being laid out in banks of 12 fits really well with this production,” he says. “There are 80 inputs, so I’ve got drums on one bank, band on another, vocals on another and rest of the VCAs in the middle.”
The show is complex, featuring ‘mini-sets’ performed by Take That in both their four and five-piece line-ups, which are interspersed with Robbie Williams performing several of his biggest solo songs. In order to accommodate all this, plus several instrumental interludes to allow for costume and set changes, Gary has all the songs programmed as snapshots, some songs even having a couple of different snapshots within them.
“All I have to do during the show is press ‘next’,” Gary smiles. “I’m using multiband compression on some of the vocals and outputs, plus multiband EQ on the latter, just to smooth things out. It’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do on any of the previous DiGiCo desks and it sounds great.”
He is also recording every show via MADI. “When we set up in each new venue, I can play things back at show volume and make any changes I need without the boys or the band having to be there. It also saves a lot of time at soundchecks, of course.”
At the monitor position, Steve Lutley does the five ‘boys’ monitor mixes on one SD7, while Simon Hodge does those for the band on the second.
“Between us, we’re doing 22 in-ear mixes, plus an additional 12 hard drive mixes,” says Simon. “With this size of production you often seem to run out of outputs, but the SD7 has almost unlimited busses, which makes it really the only desk I know of that could do this job.”
With the built-in effects and macros providing the tools with which to provide perfect monitor mixes in the challenging environment of a stadium-sized show, Simon and Steve are very happy with the desks’ performance.